If you are traveling on the national road N5 between Ouaga and Pó you might have a chance to see elephants strolling around beside the road close to Pó .
We had this chance, stopped and took pictures from closest nearness.
But may I give you warning of attacks! Twice we had to run back to our car, because one younger elephant undertook a feint attack.
Favorite thing: In Bamako, Mali a 90 day visa is available in the same day for 47000 CFA (~€ 70), similar price also in Europe. With a EU passport you might get a visa on arrival at the Ouagadougou for 10000 CFA (january 2012, german passport).
Favorite thing: The sad news for the englishspeaking travellers is that there are not many guidebooks on Burkina Faso. Apart from LP and Roughguide (a bit outdated) books on West Africa only Bradt Guides have an english guidebook devoted only on Burkina (recent edition was May 2006). Check out all of them. It totally depends on everyone's taste.
One might think that formalities entering Burkina are strict, neverthless I found them quite relaxing, though the airport in Ouaga is a small one and can get crowded as European oriented flights arrive late in the evening.
Don't expect jetways, you're transfered from your plane to the terminals by airport buses. Once you enter the building you'll be asked to present your Yellow fever vaccination certificate. Then you fill in an immigration card (do that quickly!!) and then you line up to pass the customs for your arrival stamp (it's where your passport and visa are checked). Note that you need to write down an address (hotel, guest house) in Burkina otherwise your immigration card won't be accepted. This is just few meters away from the single belt where you're supposed to pick up your luggage (if they arrive....mine did not!).
Favorite thing: You can exchange money in banks but in our case as we arrived during the weekend (late evening) we had the only option to exchange in a big hotel in Ouaga that our driver took us to. We were given a rate of 650CFA per 1€ which was not bad. In all other cases you could get even 640 CFA per 1€. In many cases you could even pay in Euros and get change in CFAs.
Burkina's currency is West African CFA (Communaute Fianciere d'Afrique) which is conveniently common to Mali, Benin, Togo, Niger, Senegal, Ivory Coast. There is standard exchange rate to Euro (1€=656 CFA)
This comes usually in banknotes of 10,000 5,000 2,000 1,000 and coins that we most commonly used 500, 200, 100, 50 and 25. We had no particular problem paying with 10,000 banknote as if there were not enough changes people were kind enough to find them in the nearby shops.
In terms of costs Burkina is a bit cheaper than Mali. Definitely it is not that budget destination given the standard of living. A meal could cost anything from 4-5€ per person (in restaurants) and a spartan twin room in mid price accommodations around 20-40€. Our biggest cost was renting the 4X4 (around 85€ per day) while the gasoline was a bit less than 1€ per litter (extremely high for local standards)
As yellow fever is endemic in West Africa it is prerequisite that you get vaccinated before you go there. In fact you need to show a vaccine certificate to get a visa. Otherwise forget it.
Plan to get vaccinated at least 10 days before your trip starts (I would say months). The vaccine is done at your local health authorities (in my case in Athens Public Health Headquarters) where additional information is given concerning health issues for the country you plan to travel. The vaccine was done for free, injected SC and minor adverse reactions might be expected within 5-12 days (I had none 10 days now). The vaccine lasts for ten years (so visit as much of Africa as you can). It was essential to bring along my passport as I was given an international vaccination certificate along.
More on yellow fever: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_fever
Subsaharan african countries like BF encounter several precautions:
1. A Yellow Fever is prerequisite and its certificate is expected to be shown if asked. It lasts 10 years (so travel as much in Africa as you can during this period)
2. Malaria prevention is essential. Malaria often a fatal disease if let untreated is prevalent throughout the year in BF. Either Lariam, Malarone or Vibramycin should be taken as prophylaxis (ask your doctor which suits you best). Mosquito net accommodation should be advisable plus a repellent containg at least 30% DEET (several brands on the internet). It is mentioned long sleeves but I still question if it is tolearable to wear them while touring around under 38o C
Don't be paranoid about malaria prevention, but at the same time don't take it light!
If you're not a citizen of a neighbouring west african country, then a visa is required to enter Burkina.
A lot has been written about possibility of visa upon arrival, but I would strongly advice you not to take the risk. In fact some airlines (I have heard Air France is such case) won't even allow you into the airplane without it.
Now the tricky part is WHERE to get it. In Greece there is no Burkinabe embassy, but luckily visa can be obtained from the French consulate. So even if there is no BF embassy in your country just check out with the French consulate (they have everywhere)
For application in Athens are necessary:
- Passport lasting at least 6 months before the trip
- A special application form (you can fill in at the consulate, but outside my country it is possible to download it in cases like the BF embassy in Brusells or Rome)
- Copy of return ticket to BF
- Voucher of accommodation in BF ( this can be arranged if you book in advance)
- Copy of Yellow Fever vaccination
Now the bad thing is that despite in BF embassies they charge around 20-30€ for a single entry visa, in Athens they charge a hefty 60€!! Besides they can issue only a single entry 1 month visa!
Of course I can imagine noone would think to come to Athens to issue a visa for BF!!
Better check out with your country's Ministry of Foreigh Affairs, where it is possible to issue your visa. But DO get it in advance!
If you enjoy the unexpected and if you are patient, go for Africa! If you are White, expect to be considered very rich even if your pockets are empty... Bargain for everything or, better, try to make local friends who will do it for you. Except in a few places in Ouagadougou, do not expect Western standards in hotels: be happy if your bed is clean and if there is a toilet you can flush. Takind a local bus out of the mains towns is an unforgettable experience: you will travel with chickens, goats and more people than you ever imagined the vehicule could contain. Be more than prudent with food and beverage. Since I had to travel far away from any "civilization", I had a stock of dried potatoe flakes (just had to add boiling water) and baby food (vegetables). I loved every minute of it although I often had to give bakschich or to wait during endless controls by official as well as unofficial police... I was som years ago and things may have changed since, but the general spirit is likely to be the same.
Fondest memory: I loved the people who make the most out of nearly nothing, are so creative (not much choice anyway). I was invited everywhere and had wonderful nights dancing local dances with children in a village in the middle of nowhere...
Very important to get yourself a good guide, that knows his thing and can show you a good time and sites.My guide that I found here on VT had his own car, although I must say it wasn't cheap because I was on my own, it was well worth it.Very conscientious, honest and helpful at all times.
Speaks very good French and a smattering of English. He is also one of only 14 guides licensed by the ONTB (Office National de Tourisme Burkinabé) operating in Bobo.
Mr. Ouattara Bema aka Ablo
01 BP: 2259 Bobo Dioulasso 01 - Burkina Faso
Tel: 00 226 70252693 + 00 226 76519208
Lives and operates from Bobo but if necessary can pick you up from the int'l airport in Ouagadougou.
To be recommended.
Fondest memory: It became quite emotional when my guide had to leave me in Ouagadougou after the 5 days I spent with him. We really spent a good few days together. Took me to see his family, and helped with meeting people I otherwise wouldn't have seen. Made me feel very safe and comfortable.
Burkina Villages are all over the place, and each one is different from the rest. Different people, mud hut architectural style, and personalities. Your guide will make or break your adventures in Burkina because maps don't provide detail enough to get into the tiny villages. Also, unless you speak the African dialect, you'll want a guide to help introduce you to the residents and headman or "king". The guide can be young, but not wreckless in judgement nor demanding of you once you're out in the middle of nowhere. The guide should have an established rapport that helps you prepare the portrait photography, not come up with excuses why you can't get the people photos, or demand coins for every shutter release. Do have some change in your pocket, but the best experiences I had were in villages off the tourist beat where money for pictures wasn't expected.
Fondest memory: I was lucky to have good guides in both Bobo Dioulasso and Ouaga. E-mail Mamoudou Cisse at email@example.com. His English seems extra marginal on-line but once you meet him, you'll communicate OK. Call him on his cell phone once you are in town: 76670866. He hangs out at Bobo Art in the center of the city. He speaks excellent French and a variety of African dialects. The time I spent running around with him ranks as my best Burkina experience. He was very reliable, patient, friendly, and knowledgeable.
There’s lots of animals everywhere. Here you have some examples.
In the dry season the houses that termites build can measure more than 2 metres.
Hay muchos animales en todos los lugares. Aquí tienes unos ejemplos.
En la epoca de sequia los termiteros pueden llegar a medir más de dos metros.
The unpaved roads in Burkina Fase, we drove, were most of the time good.
This is the road from Ouaga to the Malinese border (Tiou-Bankass).
Fondest memory: The people and special the table-football match with the boys from Ouaga.
visit the Lobi and other tribe villages in the Gaoua region
Fondest memory: contacts with local people; very few tourists visit B.F., even less the Lobi region. People are very friendly. Our minibus broke down in an area where they hardly see any foreingers. We had to wait for hours and this allowed us to meet people walking to their fields. Some were quite hesitant to make contact. But once salutations were exchanged, hands were shaken, all you could see were smiling faces. Theirs, and ours.
01 Bp 1603 Ouaga 01, OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 01
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
I stayed at 4 hotels in Ouagadougou. If this was a review by Goldilocks, I would say this hotel is...more
Ave de la Liberté, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Good for: Business